illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Ad Policies, Cloud Storage and Car Things

Featuring Spotify, Hulu, Amazon and Apple

This week, we weren’t the only ones feeling the heat. It was earnings call time for both Spotify and Apple. Spotify has announced that they will be sunsetting their Car Thing, just a year after its launch, and Disney announced Hulu is changing their ad policies after uproar from social media. In addition, Amazon is sunsetting their Amazon Drive service to prioritize Amazon Photos. Apple is keeping things sweet with high subscriber numbers – 860 million, to be exact. We’ve also got everyone’s favorite feature – top subscription jobs – to supplement our subscription jobs page.

Spotify discontinues production of the Car Thing

Spotify launched their “Car Thing” accessory in 2021 but recently announced they are halting production of the streaming device. Listeners were made aware of the change in Spotify’s quarterly earnings release. Spotify reported that the Reported Gross Margin was negatively impacted, to the tune of $32 million, The Verge reported.

Car Thing was initially made available on an invitation-only basis in April 2021, but Spotify started letting the public join the waitlist in October of 2021. General sale of the device started in February of this year. The device is used on dashboards for Premium Spotify users to bring Spotify to their cars, not to compete with existing in-car entertainment systems.

When Spotify initially launched Car Thing, it was touted as a free offering, but the company sold the devices for $89.99, not including the cost of a monthly premium subscription. A lot of users who already had in-car entertainment systems didn’t see the high need for the device, especially with a higher price tag.

“The goal of Spotify’s Car Thing exploration was to better understand in-car listening, and bring audio to a wider range of users and vehicles. Based on several factors, including product demand and supply chain issues, we have decided to stop further production of Car Thing units. Existing devices will perform as intended. This initiative has unlocked helpful learnings, and we remain focused on the car as an important place for audio,” a spokesperson for Spotify said.

As of writing this article, you can still purchase a Spotify Car Thing, for $49.99. The price decrease is being listed as a “Summer Sale” on the Car Thing landing page.

Source: Spotify

Disney changes Hulu ad policies

Hulu recently made waves when they announced they would no longer be accepting ads of a political nature. However, in an update to the situation, Disney appears to have made some changes to the advertising policies. Voters on all sides of the spectrum were upset, and the announcement caused some backlash on social media.

“For them to block us from being able to communicate the gravity of the times that we’re in was hugely problematic for us. We just have a broader definition of television these days. So these platforms are a critically important way of getting our persuasion advertising to the voters,” Julie Norton of Mosaic Communications said.

The purpose of Hulu’s initial ban of political ads was to minimize misinformation being spread, as well as protection of the consumer experience, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, this caused a lot of voters to believe they were being censored, which could lead to further misinformation.

“After a thorough review of ad policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the last few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies to be consistent with the company’s general entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN+,” Disney said in a statement.

Disney went on to elaborate that Hulu will now be accepting ads from political candidates, as well as issue ads covering a spectrum of positions. However, Hulu and Disney reserve the right to request edits made to the advertisements to align with network standards. These ads will match those that are allowed to run on Disney’s cable networks, ESPN and FX, Axios shared. These ads will be different than those that run on Disney’s broadcast networks. Broadcasters are required to accept ads from political candidates on any topic, regardless of network standards or controversy.

While Disney is allowing other services to accept political and issue ads, Disney+ will remain free of politics. When they announced their ad-supported tier earlier this year, they said they would not accept political or alcohol ads, to help keep the service family-friendly.

Hulu logo displayed on buttons, stacked on top of each other on green background
Source: Adobe Stock Photo

Amazon shutters Amazon Drive

Amazon has announced they are shutting down their cloud storage service, Amazon Drive. The company effective December 31, 2023, according to GeekWire.

“We are taking the opportunity to more fully focus our efforts on Amazon Photos to provide customers a dedicated solution for photos and video storage,” Amazon said in their FAQs.

On October 31, 2022, the Amazon Drive app will be removed from both iOS and Android app stores, and neither app will receive updates. On January 31, 2023, Amazon Drive will lose the functionality to upload photos to the website, TechCrunch reported. Users will still be able to view and download files until December 31. 2023. As of the last day of the service, Amazon Drive will no longer be able to be accessed by customers. Amazon stated that they would communicate their plan to remove or delete files prior to the shutdown.

Fortunately for those who only used Amazon Drive to store photos and videos, Amazon will automatically transfer those files over to Amazon Photos. Other file types must be downloaded manually, according to AppleInsider.

Amazon Photos will still be functional and will give Prime members free photo storage, up to 5GB. Users that need more than 5GB of storage space can pay $19.99 for 100 GB for one year. Amazon Photos also offers 1TB and 2TB storage solutions.

Screenshot of Amazon Drive for Android
Screenshot of Amazon Drive for Android

Apple now has 860 million paid subscriptions across services

Apple is making it big in the subscription world. In their subscription portfolio, Apple currently offers music, streaming video, news, cloud storage, fitness, care plans, and more. In their third-quarter earnings call, Apple said they saw an increase of 160 million subscriptions just over the last 12 months. However, they did not divulge a breakdown of subscriber counts per service, MacRumors reported. Apple also said they had seen an increase of 35 million subscriptions in this quarter alone, bringing the number up from 825 million, TechCrunch shared.

“The record level of performance of our services portfolio during the June quarter reflects the strength of our ecosystem on many fronts. First, our install base has continued to grow, reaching an all time high across each geographic segment and major product category. We also saw increased customer engagement with our services during the quarter our transacting accounts, paid accounts and accounts with paid subscriptions. All grew double digits year over year and paid subscription showed very strong growth,” Luca Maestri of Apple said.

Analysts have said that Apple can utilize their subscriptions to help bring their market cap up by another $1 trillion. Of these 860 million subscriptions, 816 million are currently paid subscriptions, and Apple could easily gain more traction by next quarter at their current pace. These subscriptions are not just via Apple services; this could be any app that is hosted on the App Store. Apple reported $19.6 billion in Services revenue, which is slower than last quarter, and just short of the $19.7 billion Wall Street predicted, TechCrunch reported.

Apple logo on side of Apple store
Source: Bigstock Photo

Top Subscription Jobs: LinkedIn

Director, Customer 360
New York, NY

The Director, Customer 360 plays an integral, cross-functional role within the TIME Next Data team. You will lead an emerging team responsible for a customer data platform that supports audience segmentation and activation to owned and paid channels. You will partner with product, marketing, engineering, and advertising teams on mapping and executing an audience strategy across each phase of the acquisition and lifecycle funnel for TIME and its clients. You will evaluate data providers to enrich our first party data set that drive insights, data science modeling, precise targeting and expanded addressable reach. Read more.

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Direct-to-Consumer
National Football League
Inglewood, CA

The NFL Marketing Group is seeking a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the NFL’s direct-to-consumer business. This product, brand, and performance marketing role includes both building the strategies to effectively market the NFL’s digital subscription products, and collaborating directly with our product team. This role will maximize the value of paid, owned, and earned media, and will work cross-departmentally with most internal teams, including but not limited to Product, Creative, Strategy, Media Intelligence, and Consumer Insights. Read more.

Chief Marketing Officer
Washington, D.C. (Remote)

Are you an expert B2B enterprise software product marketer with a flair for creating edgy messaging? Have you ever had to reign in your content because you were worried it would be too controversial, or how your management would react to it? Why not lose those shackles and work for us instead? We do not shy away from messaging that may rile up the industry; instead, we embrace it. At a product-level, we want you to craft provocative and industry-disruptive marketing messages without worrying about toeing any lines or corporate heads getting in your way. You will have the top-down ownership of the marketing success of our products, acting as the de-facto CMO with one of the most exciting product portfolios in the enterprise software industry. Read more.

Senior Product Manager I, Native Video Player
The Walt Disney Company
Santa Monica, CA

We seek an enthusiastic and experienced product manager to lead our efforts in evolving the world-class native video player used by Disney+ and other Disney brand partners. Reporting to the Senior Manager, Media Product, and part of the rapidly growing Media Product team, the job location is open to these locations: Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Burbank. The video player is the heart of the streaming experience for our users, and Disney’s aggressive growth strategy means we are extending our reach to more customers, on more devices, world-wide, every day. Keeping that experience compelling, satisfying, and familiar, regardless of what device is in use, is the highest priority. Read more.

VP of Product, Digital and Apps
Peloton Interactive

The VP of Product will be responsible for leading the product team to continue to drive innovation, iteration, and optimization of all of existing and future Peloton products. This leader will serve as a transformational technical and people motivator, providing insights to the leadership team on scale, quality, and automation, and building and leading a world class product team. As we continue to grow towards our goal of 100 million members, we are increasing the reach of our brand and improving access to the product by launching a platform to support high growth opportunities. In this role, you’ll drive innovation with a members-first approach by increasing reach to prospective members and expanding access to Peloton’s premium product line. This cross-functional role will focus on building continued positive relationships across all product and engineering teams. Read more.

Two people shaking hands across a desk
Source: Envato Elements

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